advice for buying a laptop

Valeri Galtsev galtsev at
Sat Jun 11 20:31:45 UTC 2016

On Sat, June 11, 2016 2:48 pm, James B. Byrne via freebsd-questions wrote:
> On Fri, June 10, 2016 12:51, Valeri Galtsev wrote:
>> Indeed. I remember some 10 or 15 years ago someone said: having a
>> mac is like driving ferrari. Ford or subaru will get you around
>> same well, but but ferrari gives you that chic ;-)
>> Valeri
> More like a Benz.  My MacBook pro 17" is seven years old as of
> February past and still runs well.  Actually, really well.  Before
> this I never had a laptop survive more than three years before some
> critical piece of irreplaceable hardware failed.  Many not even that
> long (Sony Vaio ~9 months, HPQ whatever made with LCM chips only
> certified to 40C [saved a fortune in costs -- ~$0.005 per unit -- over
> chips certified to80C] ~13 months.)

My crude way to predict laptop hardware longevity (or rather to spot the
ones likely to die soon) is: I grab laptop body with two hands on opposite
sides and try to flex it into propeller shape. The easier it flexes, the
higher is likelyhood it will fail soon. As, when used and carried around,
it will flex, which causes system board flex. (common jargon "motherboard"
is used for 20+ years for system board.) The last makes copper leads of
system board go to plastic deformations in some places, become brittle
because of that and finally system board will develop micro cracks of some
copper leads.

This does not guarantee solid built laptop will be good for many years,
but it is good test to rule out ultimate junk.

Example of something that passes this test but is bad is (as everybody
praises macs, I will mention bad for balance): MacBook Pro 15 inch
manufactured around 2010 with NVIDIA chip. Soon after warranty (Apple 3
year "protection" plan) ended, newly released MacOS system, if installed
on it, will crash it (cause kernel panic inside nvidia kernel module).
Voila, your 3 year excellent hardware is junk. Is in my book, as the only
reason for me to have macintosh is to support my macintosh users, almost
all of whom are definitely upgraded to latest MacOS as their sysadmin
(myself) recommended. And for that particular laptop system upgrade is a

Well, sorry about rant. People seem to love Apple so much (which is
confirmed by the $$ they pay), and Apple is great where it is great, but
it has its share of trash (small, let's be fair).


> Unfortunately, contemporary Macs are monolithic beasts.  Like the
> iPhone you cannot even open them to change a battery; much less add
> memory or storage.  So bye-bye Apple when I finally do have to
> upgrade.  But the machine I have is wonderful.
> --
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Valeri Galtsev
Sr System Administrator
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
University of Chicago
Phone: 773-702-4247

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